The most popular and commercial tourist place in Goa has to be Calangute. Bustling with tourists the beach was a disappointment with trash all over the place. The Airbnb guest house was a boon, being in a quiet neighbourhood. Beach was a short 15 min stroll and the main road lined with restaurants a quick 5 min walk. Expect authentic Goan hospitality, with nutritious breakfast and friendly chit-chat. Every alternate shop will have a board announcing rental scooters and cars. Scooters are possibly the easiest way to get around to the dozens of beaches and some picturesque forts. If in the mood for a longer ride follow the NH748 until Mollem from where two roads lead to Tambdi Surla and Doodhsagar Waterfalls, both inside Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. The commercial set-up at Doodhsagar was dispiriting.
Turning towards the other option, we lunched at a nondescript restaurant serving authentic Goan Fish Curry meals. Mahadev Temple at Tambdi Surla is a Kadamba style temple built using weather-resistant grey-black basalt around 12th Century. It is the only of its kind in Goa, which is well preserved. Thanks to its location, deep in the forest, it was saved from invasions. Surrounded by forests and a stream, this small but picturesque temple is not on the touristy circuit, but expect many Hindu devotees. There is a 4km trail from the temple to Tamdi Surla Waterfall, keep at least 3 hrs for the round trip for this exciting footslog amidst the lush green forest. The trek to waterfalls starts just before the bridge towards the left, hire a guide if you don’t want to get lost in the jungle.
The next destination was Arvalem waterfalls and caves, located in a tiny village, Sanquelim. A short distance from Bicholim, along the road from Mayem Lake, you will reach this beautiful waterfall cascading through the surrounding trees into an inviting lake. A stop at Mayem Lake on the way is a good option. Dr, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao is a tranquil park, visit in the early morning to spot the feathered friends.
Northernmost beach of Goa, Arambol (Harmal) is a mix of rocky and sandy stretches. A wide array of shops in the vicinity offer clothes to handicrafts, jewellery, souvenirs and so on. Moving southward you are invited to visit the Ashvem and Morjim beaches.
Chapora Fort has a long history but made famous by the Bollywood flick –Dil Chahta Hai. Though in a dilapidated state, the views of beaches and the creek formed by Chapora river are mesmerising. Walk along the fort wall to enjoy the seascape from all directions, best visited after 4pm. Following the roads snaking along the beaches, we visited Vagator beach and Anjuna beach. The rock formations at Anjuna beach near the Flea Market area was an interesting sight with the seawater gushing through the laterite stone crevices while you are enjoying the sunset.
Returning via Honnavar – Jog Falls – Sagara through the magical twisty roads of Western Ghats is an excellent option, if you have the luxury of time. This route continues to Shimoga - Tarikere - Hosadurga - Hiriyur and joins PB road (NH48).